This time three years ago, I was pretty miserable. I was overweight and at the end of my tether. Nothing much seemed to be right with my life. That Christmas resulted in a pact with my best friend Jo that we would really make the effort to lost weight and improve our health in 2009.
By two years ago, I was over 4 stone lighter, and in losing the weight I was starting to realise all the other ways I was trapped and dissatisfied with my life. Lighter but still miserable, just in a different way. The thing with becoming aware of yourself is you start to see how big the rut you're in really is, and how far you're going to have to go to get out of it.
Christmas 2010 was right after a big period of change - I'd been travelling, given up my job, moved cities, cut some ties, or at least distanced myself a bit. I'd maintained my loss for a year, but was still largely trying to work out who this new person was. Surrounded by a new place and new people, I was slowly getting to grips with her, and I'd had a period of introspection with the help of some councelling to get me there. I'd moved out of my comfort zone and was surprisingly finding it wasn't that uncomfortable at all. Bristol was proving a fresh start to be who I wanted to be.
A year on from there, and I can't believe how many new friends I have now, and how settled I feel here. I've maintained my loss for 2 years now, I've tried so many new things, and I know now that I'm still evolving. I feel more secure in myself. This is me.
Over these weeks in the roll-up to Christmas I have celebrated, and will celebrate, with many friends who accept me for exactly who I am - something I'm learning to do too. They encourage me to do fun stuff, push boundaries, grow personally and just be me.
That's no slur on my friends I've left in Malvern at all, they're all lovely too, but in the hothouse environment of a close-knit group in a small town, most of whom were at a different place in life to me, I was stifled. Now I can enjoy the time I spend with them, although I regret I haven't seen them quite as much as I'd like to, and appreciate them for who they are, rather than occasionally resenting them.
This Christmas, I've shopped and planned until I'm relatively organised (for me at least). I've got something fabulous to wear to the work party tomorrow night, that makes me feel great - helloooooooo black sequin skirt, silky bronze assymetric top, little black fitted blazer and sexy black heels (or maybe slouchy suede boots for ease of walking and dancing!). My Secret Santa has been selected and wrapped. Most of my presents have been ordered or worked out, and festive fun has been planned.
And yes, having a lovely new man on the scene doesn't hurt in ramping up the excitement and feel-good factor :o)
Christmas, so far, is looking like this:
- Work Christmas party tomorrow - 3 course lunch at the lovely Bordeaux Quay followed by .... probably lots more drinking and some silly dancing, I should imagine!
- Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum on Saturday early evening with Chris. A floodlit walk through their beautiful woods, followed by mulled wine and roasted chestnuts in their little Christmas village. Yep, it's smooshy and vomit-inducing ... and I'm totally looking forward to it. Shoot me. Followed by dinner in town and possibly Christmas drinks with our friends depending on what they organise.
- Candlelit carols in Clifton with my friend Sarah from work on Sunday evening.
- Monday I'm off to London for a couple of days to see Jo, and I think our friend Lissa is now joining us. The Costa Rica Girls reunited! We're going to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, ice-skating, Christmas markets, more mulled wine, and general Christmassy goodness. Plus lots of gossiping and a bit of wine, I should imagine.
- Back home to Worcestershire on Thursday - hopefully I'm going to catch school friends for drinks in the evening whilst they're home (damn these people who are all getting married and not coming home for Christmas anymore - it makes it difficult to catch up!)
- Coffee catch-up with another friend and her husband on Friday.
- Christmas with my dad and grandma. Low-key, chilled out and comfortable.
- Hopefully get hold of my friends Bridget and Tim and see them between Christmas and New Year, either at home or in their new gaff.
- Back to London for New Year - simple and relaxed - watch the fireworks by the Thames and more girly fun.
One thing I do need to be aware of is my weight. The festive season is not generally too kind to the waist-line, and I'd like to emerge the other end without damage. Since seeing 13st again on the scales last Friday, I've actually scraped back down under there. What I haven't been doing is tracking. Neither is my exercise at the level it would usually be. There is a fine line to tread between success and disaster, and I need to be careful.
This week will see me miss both my spin class (I had a team lunch out with work today) and my circuits class (work party tomorrow). So that's a general lack of exercise happening. On the other hand, I'm due to start my half-marathon training plan next week, which should see me running 3 times a week over the holiday period. 2 hours of running in the first week and building from there. That's a slightly frightening thought, but if I stick to it, could prove to be a waist-saver.
Despite not tracking I'm trying to be quite balanced with what I'm eating; so a big lunch, or afternoon snacks (we had work drinks in the office yesterday) is followed by a very light tea. Since starting reading the Mindless Eating book, I'm also suddenly finding myself more conscious of my behaviours. The chapter I started reading last night was called The Forgotten Food, and looked at how the mind / body often doesn't remember what we've eaten - I was very conscious of that at lunch today because we were at a buffet restaurant which is the worst culprit for that sort of behaviour. I can't say how I'd have behaved if I hadn't read that chapter just last night, but I can categorically say I've just had one small / medium plate of Chinese food, a bowl of Pho soup which I didn't finish because I realised I didn't need to, and a small bowl of dessert. And I'm stuffed. I don't know if it's because I'm very conscious that I've eaten a lot, so I'm feeling full, but most of the people I was with had 4 or 5 plates of food, and one guy had 7, so I'm very pleased with my 3.
Reading that book over Christmas is going to prove interesting, as I have a sneaking suspicion it might provoke me to think a bit more about what I'm eating.
Hope you're all gearing up for a happy, fun but healthy holiday too!